Nida Bano Qureshi on the business of making videos

Pakistani women are constantly pushing boundaries. The most promising entrant into the world of video production is 28-year-old Nida Bano Qureshi. Nida has worked with a diverse group of clients ranging from the World Bank and Alliance Francaise to L’Atelier. Her most recent venture is with couture giant Élan. I meet Nida in her light-filled drawing room on a cool April afternoon. She is quick to smile, and immediately puts me at ease. During the course of our conversation, I am struck by her facility with words, her confidence. Though she works behind the camera as a producer, she could easily be in front of it.

Nida started as a researcher for TV anchor Ejaz Haider’s show on Dawn News. From the very beginning, she has adhered to the wisdom imparted by her aunt: you have to do your job, but also everyone else’s. Swearing by this advice now that she’s her own boss, Nida has done it all — on-site reporting, post-disaster analysis, anchoring talk shows. The “keera,” as Nida affectionately calls it, was the moment she decided to make her own documentary, Once Upon A Reality. The documentary compares 17th century English society to 21st century Pakistani society through the lens of the harsh realities underlying fairly tales. Lucky for her, the people at Dawn loved the idea. They gave her the support she needed to move her documentary along. It was the beginning of new things and while at Dawn, Nida subsequently made eight more documentaries, all covering social and humanitarian issues including one featuring the long-term psychological effects of begging. For this documentary, she found herself eventually high-fiving with the kids in the Main Market roundabout. One day, says Nida, she came across a larger-than-life sound system in a jhompri! “Everyone loves to groove,” she laughs.

One day, says Nida, she came across a larger-than-life, high-tech sound system in a jhompri!

Nida wearing Roberto Cavalli
Nida wearing an Elan dress
Nida in Elan


Ayesha Alam’s morning show on Express TV was Nida’s first baby, from the conception of the show all the way to production. “We started off with a newspaper section, and then Raza Rumi would come in for a small segment called Paper Cut,” she says. “We would also do social stories. It was really informative.” She pauses and smiles: “I loved the show but am ironically not a morning person!” Nida recalls how it was a treat to not have to dress up in elaborate clothes until she had to fill in for Ayesha Alam. The morning hair and makeup were not her cup of tea, and Nida knew in her bones that her strength lay in production.

Who, pray tell, is the lady with the French accent?

A stunning new video for design house Elan shows that Nida means serious business. “I gave Cybil, the model, the character of being this vivacious personality oozing with energy,” she tells me. Khadijah Shah’s Élan Vital is a collection for the fierce, free-spirited woman. The video is shot on stretches of grass and dappled sunshine. Nida decided to throw horses in the mix for an added layer of beauty. Having grown up with horses, she picked the friendliest one for Cybil. Cybil, it turned out, had to wait for His Majesty the Horse as it sauntered around sniffing the grass. The shoot started at 5 am and Khadijah was on time, ready to go. “Working with a consummate professional like Khadijah makes the product so much better. You can work closely at every turn and execute the video exactly to the client’s taste,” says Nida. “I don’t want people to just like it, I want them to love it!” As I watched the final video, I was struck by the meticulousness of the project. Who, pray tell, is the lady with the French accent? Did Nida outsource the voiceover to France? Laughing, Nida tells me she hunted down a French lady, a professor, in Lahore. As Cybil glides by with her horse, a real French accent muses about the importance of joi de vivre. With Nida at the wheel, her production house is bound to go far.


Cybil & Nida Bano
Cybil, behind-the-scenes
Jehanzeb Amin, Cybil, Nida Bano, Faisal Farooqui & Khadijah Shah

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